“Horse Girls”

for JL, et al.

We are horse girls, you and I,
dreaming of destrier
muscles and cathedral-arch

necks, of hooves hard-
packing earth,
and of dust-kissed

lashes splitting sunlight
into threads held
by liquid eyes. We are

the last conservators
of dreams tucked close
by squires incanting war

and chivalric vows—
what strange inheritors
we must be to them:

girls rewarded for pretending
smallness, morgans
told they cannot budge

the stump. But we know
better: flicking flies
from our withers

and bursting
out of classrooms
to become canterers

of schoolyards,
encyclopedias of breeds.
Our minds sanctuaries

for native prairies
and barrel racers and queens
and steeplechasers

and hunters and jockeys
and let’s uninvent
the stirrup today,

with our Mistys of Chincoteague
and Black Stallions
and National Velvets

and Black Beauties, pages
dog-eared and polished
by our reverent touches,

and, yes, I weep for Ginger
each and every time, don’t you?
Today, I am the percheron

who leapt from the circus train
when it slowed around a bend,
and you be a mustang mare

who teaches me to kick
mountain lions in the jaw—
so let’s rear up from the carousel,

split the poles pinning us
to this spinning platform,
because today we will run

so fast all four hooves
will leave the earth.
I read in my books

that this is called a gallop,
and this is the day we do it,
I just know it is.